“Hello,” Pamilerin said again when he heard nothing from the other side.
“I’m sorry, I’m just shocked. I didn’t expect to get this call.”
“Oh”, he said, “It was an interesting read actually, you did a good job. And we loved it. But for some concerns like why it was handwritten, for instance, we thought it was great.”
“I guess you could say I was trying to be eccentric. Then I also thought it was a way of getting your attention.”
“I see,” Pamilerin answered blandly.
She moved from the sink towards the pot cabinet to lean in more comfortably. “Did it work?”
“I guess that’s why I’m calling,” Pamilerin responded. “I also noticed you scribbled ‘S.A’ on a hidden part of the sheet. Is that another way of getting our attention?”
“Really?” she sounded surprised. “I am used to scribbling my name or initials on things when I’m nervous. I guess I must have done that when I was trying to talk myself into sending it.”
“Okay, that’s understandable. However, you didn’t leave a name and we would still need a name.”
“Yeah! Can we leave it at that for now? The S.A. I mean.”
There was a brief silence, then a sigh, “Okay”, he said again. “We could but you would have to tell us your name eventually. I understand if you want to use a pseudo. But that’s for the general public, not for your publishers,” he lectured.
“I understand that. But let’s just leave it for a while please.”
Patiently, Pamilerin repeated, “for a while. Now when can you come in so we can see and talk about the other chapters? I believe you have them.”
“Yes, I do. But how about I just send them to you, instead of coming to Stills?” she countered.
A longer pause followed that seemed to drag for what seemed like minutes. When he eventually spoke, his voice was strained, obviously trying to suppress temper. “I understand you’re new at this. But usually when a publisher shows interest in your work, you are supposed to express a little more enthusiasm.”
“I am sorry, I’ve annoyed you. But I just want to remain anonymous as long as I can manage it, even if it’s only for a little while.”
“Do you have scabies or leprosy?” he asked with seriousness.
It sounded so incredulous, she had to laugh.
“What? No! … How about I send you the other chapters and if you like them, I mean you can’t really say if you’ll like the succeeding chapters just from reading the prologue, right? Before he could answer, she continued, “so I send them, you like them, then we see. That will buy me sometime and it will also give you time to decide if you really want to publish it. Win-win,” she finished.
“You sound like a good negotiator,” Pamilerin stated, “okay, as ridiculous as this sounds, you have convinced me. And I’m going ahead with this because I think you feel I’ll like your work and I’m curious as to why.”
She chuckled, “I believe you’ll be interested, if nothing else.”
“Alright, I’ll be expecting those chapters.”
“You’ll get them”.
“I’m sure I will… well I guess I should say the prologue is intriguing, so whatever the outcome of our negotiation, keep writing. I strongly think you’ve potential.”
“Thank you,” she replied, stunned and touched.
“No need. That’s what we are here for. Take care”. Then he hung up.
In his large office, Pamilerin laughed at the inanity of it all. Her naiveté or maybe just ignorance should be refreshing. He fiddled with the plaque on his table – which simply read: ‘Oluwapamilerin Badejo, Editor-in-Chief – as he wondered why he had let her off the hook that easily. Publishers usually had the upper hand in negotiations regarding amateur writers, but this S.A. had somehow grabbed the reins from him.
She still seemed pliant though, otherwise he couldn’t imagine how she could tell him to read the other chapters before making a commitment, when she should have jumped right on the opportunity. He reminded himself to be thankful she wasn’t smug or cocky, that would make his job a lot easier.
He really should be glad. But why was it even though he couldn’t place his finger on it; he felt she had something up her sleeves?
To be continued next week Friday.
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